Day 12 – The Kill That Never Came
Today was a very productive day in unexpected ways. First on our way back to our usual spot on the Grumeti River, we ran into a Bataleur sitting elegantly in a tree with its feathers ruffling in the wind. It’s magnificent red beak was extraordinary against its black and white feathers. Killerai was exceptionally amazed as it was the first time he has ever seen a Bataleur sitting quietly in a tree.
We then ran into thousands of wildebeest in the middle of their migration up to the north. They were so vast in their numbers it looked like they were endless along the Serengeti planes. For those back home, it was like driving through a National Geographic video. The wildebeests surrounding our vehicle were like locusts, but less annoying and much more incredible.
Once we made our way through the vastness of the wildebeest, we finally arrived at our usual spot on the Grumeti River. We stayed for about 2 ½ to 3 hours cautiously waiting for the wildebeest and crocodiles, watching the interaction between predators and their prey. The wildebeest tentatively came down to the river a few times, but were never lingering long enough for the crocodiles to make a move. One of the most remarkable things we noticed was the patience of the crocodiles as they waited for the wildebeest to come. After 3 hours our patience was waning and the frustration setting in, so we decided to take a break to find a quiet and shady spot for lunch.
In the 90 degree heat, it took a while to find a nice spot, but along the road with the roaming wildebeest we finally found the perfect spot. Underneath a beautiful tree we were able to have a delicious lunch while watching the lurking wildebeest. We also were lucky to find Killerai’s favorite bird, the Silverbird. It made a delightful sound above us as we listened to the grunt/honk of the wildebeest.
On our way back to search for some more action between the crocodiles and wildebeest, we wanted to make a stop at one of the best river crossing spots in the Serengeti. However, on our way we found an empty truck with a sign stating: “Filming in progress, do not follow.” We ventured forth anyway to find a person on lookout for any intruders. He stated that he was a representative for both the BBC and a German Television Network doing a documentary on the migration of the wildebeest and we were not permitted to enter. This was a disappointment since we were really excited about going to this remarkable spot, but we moved along like the other land rovers to go back to waiting spot on the Grumeti.
While we waited for another 3 hours, hoping to see a possible kill by a crocodile, but instead were lucky to see the mating ritual of the crocodile. The mating of the crocodiles was a unique experience to watch. They rolled around in a passionate thunder in an attempt to create the next generation of Nile crocodiles. The entire scene was both curious and once in a lifetime. During this time some beautiful art was being created by both Megan and Brittney as well. Trying to capture the beauty of the animals we have seen thus far, both drew from scratch animals such as the warthog, magpie shriek, and okapi.
After watching this wondrous event, we left for the day to go back to our camp. This was not the end of our excitement however. What was waiting for us would be another once in a lifetime event—a heard of elephants protecting their young from passing land rovers. As we started to pass by them, the matriarch elephant started charging toward us, an obvious sign for us to not be there. So with Killerai’s cleverness, we found a path that would go further around the elephants. This however did not stop them from planning a soldier-like formation, knowing we would take another path. As we moved around them, all six started to charge toward us, even the young. In the adrenaline pumping moment, we were shocked with amazement, fear, and joy. Being so close to stampeding elephants was a moment that none of us will forget.
Once we finally made it to the bridge, we were even more awestruck to find three male hippos, spreading their massive jaws, fighting for dominance. While they exposed their mighty molars, we were amazed to watch these other predators fight for the top. Their movement was both elegant and fearsome as we sat stunned watching. On our second to last road back to camp, we were fare welled by a mighty line of wildebeest, moving so fast the dust from the ground swept into the air. This sight reinforced our connection with nature and the absolute beauty and amazement that we are so fortunate to experience in this amazing country.